A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Meluer, Meluir, Meleire, xii-xv cent.
Mellor and Eccleshill were rated as a joint township until the end of the 17th century. A speculatory fort of the Roman period stands upon the summit of Mellor Moor, a hill from which the place derives its name, and from whence the Welsh hills and the Isle of Man are visible in clear weather. From this elevation, which forms the western spur of Ramsgreave Heights and rises 732 ft. above the ordnance datum, the land slopes steeply down to Tottering Brook and Showley Brook on the north, where the elevation is less than 300 ft., to Mellor Brook on the west and to Arley Brook on the south. Ramsgreave lies to the east and Blackburn to the south-east. Around the hamlet of Mellor and on the south-eastern slopes the subsoil consists of the Millstone Grit; on the summit of Mellor Moor and over the northern and western part of the township, of the Yoredale rocks. The soil is heavy and of a clayey nature, the land mostly meadow and pasture, the returns showing only 10½ acres of arable land, with 1,565 acres of permanent grass and 15 of woods and plantations. (fn. 1)
The modern high road from Preston to Blackburn traverses the township, and the road from Preston to Clitheroe touches the north-eastern corner. From the village of Mellor Brook a road runs through the village of Mellor leading over the Ramsgreave Heights to Whalley. The nearest railway station is at Blackburn, 4 miles distant. The area is 1,743 acres, and in 1901 the population numbered 1,111 persons. (fn. 2)
As in other places around Blackburn there has been during the last seventy years a gradual drift of the textile population from the country districts into the town of Blackburn. In 1831 the population of this township was almost double that in 1901. At the present time agriculture is the principal employment. There is a large cotton mill in the village of Mellor and another at Mellor Brook, and stone quarries at Abbott's Delf. A mineral spring at Elswick possesses medicinal properties.
There is a parish council.
MELLOR formed a constituent part of the knight's fee of which Robert Banastre was enfeoffed by Henry de Lacy about the year 1165, Walton-le-Dale being the principal member, and was held of the lords of that manor, who in turn held of the honor of Clitheroe. The proportionate service for Mellor was the sixteenth part of a knight's fee and 8d. yearly rent, presumably for ward of Lancaster Castle. (fn. 3) Probably before this infeudation the Marseys, lords of Bolton-le-Moors, had acquired rights here and in Lower Darwen and Eccleshill, in respect of which rents were afterwards paid yearly to the bailiff of the hundred of Salford, that from Mellor being 4s. In 1230 Roger son of Ranulf de Marsey sold his rights in these manors and elsewhere in the county to Ranulf Earl of Chester and Lincoln, from whom they passed to William de Ferrers, lord between Ribble and Mersey. (fn. 4) This explains the collection of these rents by the Salfordshire bailiff.
The Cheshire family of Honford held the manor during the 13th century by subinfeudation by the Banastres. Richard de Honford occurs about 1220 and Henry in 1246. (fn. 5) The latter enfeoffed Henry son of Adam de Blackburn of land here adjoining to Showley, as will be seen below. William son of Henry de Honford also gave lands here to Adam son of Adam de Blackburn. (fn. 6) Henry de Boseden son of William de Boseden, or de Honford, alienated the manor before 1292 to John Deuyas, (fn. 7) from whom it descended to the Southworths of Samlesbury, who held it for many generations. (fn. 8) In 1445–6 Richard Southworth held it by the sixteenth part of a knight's fee, and in the time of Edward IV gave puture to the sheriff in respect of his mansion here. (fn. 9)
In 1610, shortly before his death, John Southworth purchased the manor from his sister Ellen and her husband William Dewhurst, to whom it appears to have been given or demised at their marriage. In 1664 John Southworth, grandson of the last named, who had succeeded to the Samlesbury estates on the death of his cousin Thomas Southworth in 1641, joined with his cousins Elizabeth and Jane in conveying this manor to trustees for sale. (fn. 10) There is some uncertainty as to the immediate purchaser, but very shortly after this date the manor was held by William Yates of Blackburn, who died in 1684. In 1746 and 1748 Mr. Maghull (or 'Maile') Yates was in possession, (fn. 6) in 1779 Elizabeth his widow; but towards the end of the year Mr. William Higginbotham answered to the bailiff of Salford Hundred for the manorial rent of 4s. (fn. 12)
Towards the end of the 18th century Mr. Henry Sudell of Blackburn purchased the manor and several estates, and imparked a portion of them with contiguous lands in Pleasington and Samlesbury to form Woodfold Park, in the midst of which stands Woodfold Hall, the modern manor-house of Mellor. (fn. 13) The park is inclosed by a stone wall 4 miles in circuit and 9 ft. in height. Mr. Sudell held a court leet for the manor until 1827, when commercial difficulties necessitated the sale of portions of the estate. The manor and that part of the park lying in Mellor had been settled upon Mr. Sudell's children, and were sold in 1831 to Mr. John Fowden Hindle, a few months before the latter's death. His son John Fowden Hindle was Sheriff of Lancaster in 1844 and died in 1849. His brother and successor Mr. William Fowden Hindle died four years later, leaving as heir his daughter Mary Jane, married in 1839 to Mr. George Frederick Gregory. The manor and the Woodfold Park estates were sold about 1878 to Mr. Robert Daniel Thwaites of Blackburn, at whose death in 1888 they descended to his only daughter Elma Amy, now lady of the manor, who in 1888 married Mr. Robert Armstrong Yerburgh, M. P. for Chester 1886–1906 and 1910.
STANLEY HOUSE appears to have been for a long period the reputed manor-house of Mellor; it was in the 16th century the property of a family from whom it took its name, (fn. 14) and having come into the possession of the Yates family was made their seat. The building stands on high ground on the south side of the high road between Blackburn and Preston, about 2½ miles from the former town, to the north of Woodfold Park. It is a rather picturesque late 16th or early 17thcentury three-story stone building, now a farmhouse, with a frontage of about 60 ft. facing south. The elevation is broken towards the east end by a square projecting porch forming a kind of tower, being taken some feet higher than the stone cornice of the roof. The walling is of coursed rough stones with angle quoins, and the windows are all low mullioned openings of five and six lights to the ground and first floors and three lights at the top. The upper window in the tower has its middle light raised, and all the windows have hood moulds. The roof is covered with stone slates, and has a wide gable at each end with a projecting chimney at the west, and there is a modern addition at the back under a lean-to roof. The porch projects 6 ft., and is an open one, with a four-centred arch under a square hood mould, above which is a panel space, the panel —which probably bore an inscription and date— having disappeared. In the west wall of the porch is a round opening, the house having been approached from that side, but the floor above has gone and the whole of the east part of the building is in a state of dilapidation.
The family of Blackburn of Showley, in the adjoining township of Clayton-le-Dale, were enfeoffed of lands here by the Honfords, as already stated. William son of Henry de Honford gave to Adam son of Adam de Blakeburn (fn. 15) land lying on the eastern side of the road leading between Blackburn and Showley. His son, variously called Henry de Honford and Henry son of William de Boseden, enfeoffed Henry son of Adam de Blakeburn of land called Le Konywe and other contiguous lands on the western side of the forest of Ramsgreave. (fn. 16) These lands descended in the families of Blakeburn, Radcliffe and Walmsley of Showley, as described in the account of that mesne manor.
A family bearing the local name held half the manor from the Honfords. William de Mellor occurs at the beginning of the reign of Henry III, and Richard in 1246 and 1252. Hugh de Mellor gave to Henry son of Adam de Blakeburn the service of Richard de Mellor for land called Hauekechae (Hawkshaw), and was father of Robert living in the time of Edward I. (fn. 17) On 13 September 1282 he resigned his manorial rights to Sir John Deuyas by deed made at 'Hendouyr' in Wales, and attested by William le Botiler, William de Lamare, Henry le Botiler, William son of Richard le Botiler, John de Sothul, Robert de Lathum and Thomas de Autrey, knights, Gilbert de Sothworth, Nicholas de Lee, Richard de Mulyneus, Warine de Clayton, Robert de Bold, Roger Banastre, William de Linton, Adam de Hindley, William de Singilton, Daykin de Hulton and Thomas the clerk, then serving in the Welsh campaign. (fn. 18) Robert had issue John and Henry. The former was party with John Deuyas, as chief lords of Mellor, to many suits and cross-suits at Lancaster assizes in 1292 with Henry de Blakeburn of Mellor, touching the inclosure of woodlands and waste, felling of trees and roads made. (fn. 19) Robert eldest son of John, living in 1304, was the father of William, living in 1336; William son of William de Mellor, who sold Smithicroft to John Southworth, kt., in 1401, appears to have been the last local representative of the elder line of this family. (fn. 20) In 1336 the free tenants of the manor were William de Huntingdon, Dame Matilda de Holand, John de Coppedhurst, William de Shorrock, Henry de Haukeshagh, Robert and Adam de Blakeburn. (fn. 21)
SHORROCK GREEN. The family of Shorrock appear here at an early date. William and Henry, sons of Roger de Shorok, occur about 1300. Richard de Shorrok was one of the largest contributors to the subsidy of 1332. (fn. 22) William his son was a freeholder here in 1336. John de Shorrok contributed to the poll tax of 1379; and his son and heir William was in possession of 'Old Shorock' in Mellor in 1411. (fn. 23) Geoffrey Shorock made his will before witnesses in 1459. For a long period the descent of the estate cannot be traced, but ultimately it passed to the family of Clayton of Blackburn. (fn. 24)
Other freehold estates are: Arley, the property of the Aspden family in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 25); Abbot House, held by the Abbot family for nearly 200 years, and sold by the last possessor, owing to reduced circumstances, to Mr. Sudell of Woodfold Park towards the end of the 18th century. The house had clay floors both below and above, large open fireplaces, soot-lofts and open chimneys, inner walls with vertical and cross-posts filled in with 'raddle and daub,' and a newel staircase. (fn. 26) For more than two centuries the family of Ward (fn. 27) were freeholders here, the last possessor, George Ward, conveying his estate in 1747 to the governors of Blackburn Grammar School. These and other freeholding families are noticed by Mr. Abram. (fn. 28)
Many place-names now lost are recorded in the Southworth deeds. One of some interest is the Hermitage, commemorating a plat of land once held by a hermit. (fn. 29) The road from Blackburn to Mellor village was named Staingate; the land between it and the road to 'Scholfley' (Showley) was called Haukeschaw; from the brook between Blackburn and Mellor, called 'Hauekesshae' Brook, ran the ditch 'del Hackinbothe.' Showley Brook seems to have been named 'Blakebroc'; Eissilache formed the boundary against the 'forest' of Ramsgreave, and was connected with Blakebroc by 'le sike de Bereschahe.'Tottering Brook was named the' sike of Stonilode.' Between Staingate and the road to Showley, and beneath Mellor Moor, lay 'Haukeshae ruding.' On the road near Lower Abbot House there was a 'lidyate' to prevent cattle straying into Balderston; to the east of this road was a large inclosure called 'Le Heye.' Near-adjoining were 'Le Armetriding,' inclosures in 'Brendehurst,' whilst 'Boseburn' was, as now, the boundary against Balderston.
In 1626 Richard Abbot, described as a convicted recusant, paid double to the subsidy; his wife, William Ireland, John Elswick, Thomas Crosse and their wives, and Hugh Welchmond were noncommunicants. (fn. 30) In 1666 there were seventy-nine hearths taxed in Mellor; Leonard Clayton, clerk, of Shorrock Green, had seven, Thomas Abbot, clerk, of Abbot House, had five. (fn. 31)
The church of St. Mary was built in 1829, by Parliamentary grant, on a site given by Henry Sudell of Woodfold Park. (fn. 32) The tower contains a clock and eight bells, the gift of Daniel Thwaites; the east window of stained glass was erected in 1871 by Henry Hargreaves of Mellor House as a memorial to relatives. There are other memorial windows and fittings given in memory of various local personages. The registers date from the year 1830. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the vicar of Blackburn.
The followers of Wesley first held services during the latter part of the 18th century in a room at Abbot House, and later in the disused windmill on Mellor Moor. In 1790 the Society belonged to the Blackburn Circuit. A small chapel built in 1802 was twice rebuilt before a new building was erected in 1893; it was enlarged in 1900. A second Methodist society was founded here in 1847, services being held in a room at Mellor Brook Mill until 1852, when the present Mellor Brook Wesleyan Chapel was erected. (fn. 33)